Introduction.I will share with you two examples of participatory research and project delivery and the evolution of our thinking on project delivery as a consequence of those experiences. From this I will highlight some of the lessons WV has learnt for research and adoption of new innovations.
By the early 1980’s much of the agricultural landscape of Southern Niger was in a highly degraded state. Conventional approaches to land restoration failed. Through an informal, collaborative research and promotion program, as system of reforestation called “Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration” was developed. FMNR is a low cost, simple and rapid form of land restoration based on regeneration of trees and shrubs from living tree stumps, roots and seeds and the sustainable management of coppice regrowth. The impact on livelihoods, landscapes and food security were dramatic, with landscapes like this (bare landscape) to this (treed landscape) in a matter of just 3-4 years. Farmers reported a doubling of crop yields, increased availability of fodder, increased access to firewood and building poles for home consumption and sale, increased resilience to disaster through now having a resource (trees) to draw from in times of need.As a consequence, farmers themselves became the chief promoters of this ‘new’ technology and the rate of spread is perhaps unprecedented in Africa. Over a 20 year period, FMNR spread to 5 million ha. Of farmland (~50% of the culitvated area of Niger). That is an annual rate of around 250,000 ha/year.
The impacts on agriculture and food security has been very significant. Tree density stood at an average of around 80 trees/ha at the turn of the century.This had to declined drastically reaching around 3/ha. by 1984.From 1984 onward, av. Tree density rose to around 50 trees/ha, with some farmers leaving between 100-150 trees/ha. Nationally, this is said to have resulted in an additional 500,000 tons of grain produced annually, enough to feed 2.5 million additional people. In addition, livestock survival and productivity has greatly improved, and communities’ resilience to environmental shocks such as drought and insect outbreaks has increased. I believe that the rapid spread and adoption of FMNR through Niger is largely attributed to farmers themselves embracing this technology and through their sharing the story with others.
The Niger Experience of FMNR development and adoption is largely a story of bottom up development in which farmers were the primary promoters of the technique. There was some facilitation by the initiating NGO through fostering exchange visits (bringing in other NGOs’ farmers groups, Peace Corps, extension personnel,..) and training them and by sending out illiterate but competent farmers to introduce / teach FMNR in other regions. Seeing how rapidly FMNR spread as a bottom up approach, WV is now working to build on this foundation by engaging government (favourable policies, publicity, follow up.), other NGOs, Researchers and teachers,lessons WV has learnt for research and adoption of new innovations include - Importance of including all stakeholders, including government decision and policy makers Favorable environment for research – in the context of this project there was strong government endorsement to do the work – in fact there was a mandate to TARI to come up with results that would help solve very serious food insecurity and land degradation problems. Inclusion of communities/farmers from the outset Credibility (to the communities and the government) of the NGO and the research organization involved Use of farmers in disseminating results. Adequacy and timeliness of funding Ongoing review and monitoring of progress by stakeholders Regular reporting by researchers on findings and problems faced etc.
In Tigray region of Ethiopia, chronic and acute hunger are all too common. An Australian acacia, acacia saligna has been widely planted primarily for land restoration purposes. Neither farmers nor foresters knew that seed of A. saligna is edible and contains around 25% protein, 40% Carbohydrates and 3% fats. A participatory research project was commissioned which facilitated collaboration between WV, Tigray Agricultural Research Institute and local communities formed into Farmer Research Groups.Research focused on:Selection of best A. saligna provenances and acacia species for the region and development of recommended silvicultural practices for forest and agroforestry settings.Determining the impact of A. saligna pollen and nectar on honey production and qualityDetermining the fodder value of A. saligna leavesDetermining the nutritional value and safety of A. saligna seeds for human consumption, and if and once safety is established, devising suitable recipes for nutritionally superior foods.In relation to research and program delivery, what is interesting about this program is that from the outset farmers have input into research topics; farmers pilot many of the research activities on their own farms, farmer Research Groups are visited by TARI researchers each week and formal feedback sessions are held quarterly giving FRGs the latest research progress reports and giving them an opportunity for feedback. In addition, exchange visits, field days and seminars are held for the communities, other NGOs, researchers and government departments and peer reviewed articles are produced and distributed. As a consequence of engaging farmers meaningfully from the outset, it has been observed that farmers are not waiting until the research is completed to start applying the results in their own farms and to share the findings with others. Farmers now no longer avoid placing bee hives near A. saligna because they know there will be no detrimental effects on the honey; farmers are planting and caring for A. saligna trees on their farmland and are telling others about the benefits. In fact, farmers are pushing TARI/WV to hurry up and complete the seed safety testing and recipe development because they are impatient to start eating the grain.
On ground project delivery: Lessons for research development and ensuing adoption of outputs
On ground project deliveryLessons for research development and ensuing adoption of outputs
Large scale, rapid, low costtransformation in landscapes. Farmers =primary ‘goal owners’ of FMNR research agenda & the primary promoters
3 trees/ha to 50/ha.Farmers =primary ‘goalowners’ of FMNRresearch agenda.Farmers = primarydisseminators of FMNRthrough their routine /informal contacts.
+ Top Down (Government / NGO)+ NGO’s, Gov. + ResearchExtension services + Bottom Up (Cm’ty & individuals)
Collaborative research Farmer ResearchersResearch Scientist